Get started here with an introduction to all the basics and fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy and the podcast. How is Buddhism different from other worldviews or philosophies? What are the key Buddhist teachings? Learn all this and more.
Don't use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist. Use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.
What is the Secular Buddhism Podcast?
The Secular Buddhism Podcast focuses on presenting time-honored teachings from Buddhist philosophy coupled with modern psychology and neuroscience. Each episode highlights a unique topic, exploring ways to integrate such wisdom into our daily routines.
It's an invitation to explore a rich tradition of thought in a way that's grounded, relevant, and accessible, regardless of your religious or spiritual background.
It connects timeless insights with contemporary understanding, fostering a path that is both deeply rooted and refreshingly innovative.
Who is the podcast for?
The podcast is for anyone that's interested in learning more about Buddhism, psychology, and mindfulness. Whether you are new to Buddhist concepts or have been exploring them for years, Secular Buddhism offers an inclusive and pragmatic perspective that can enhance your journey towards a more mindful and compassionate life.
A look at the fundamentals
How is Buddhism different from other worldviews or philosophies?
- Buddhism is not centered on worship of a deity, but rather on following a path or method to reduce suffering. The Buddha is not a god but rather an example of someone who attained enlightenment through personal effort.
- Buddhism suggests that all things are impermanent and interdependent. This understanding implies that there is no unchanging, permanent self or soul. Understanding this can lead to a realization of emptiness, which is key to enlightenment.
- Buddhism emphasizes liberation via one's own insight and discipline, rather than divine grace. Enlightenment is attained through practice and personal effort.
- Buddhism focuses on cultivating virtues like compassion, equanimity and mindfulness as part of the path, rather than obedience to commandments.
- Buddhism teaches "the Middle Way", a path that avoids the extremes of self-indulgence and self-denial. This balanced approach is considered essential in the pursuit of enlightenment.
- Buddhism encourages critical reasoning and inquiry, rather than reliance on faith, revelation, or a set of beliefs. Experiential verification is valued over dogma.
- Buddhist teachings emphasize that enlightenment is accessible to all beings, not just a chosen or privileged few. It offers a path that is available to anyone willing to put in the effort to understand and practice the teachings.
Buddhist teachings are not something you're meant to believe; they're something you do—you put them into practice.
What are the key Buddhist teachings?
Buddhism teaches a wide array of principles aimed at understanding the nature of reality and alleviating suffering. Here are some of the key teachings you'll encounter in Buddhism:
The Four Noble Truths
Buddhism teaches that the fundamental problem facing humanity is suffering, and that the cause of suffering is craving or attachment. The four noble truths of Buddhism summarize this teaching:
- Life is characterized by suffering or dissatisfaction. This includes frustration, dissatisfaction, and distress as part of the normal human experience.
- The cause of suffering is clinging or craving, driven by ignorance of the true nature of reality. This includes craving for sensory pleasures, clinging to desires, and trying to hold on to things that are impermanent. The cause of suffering is wanting things to be other than how they are.
- It is possible to be free from suffering by letting go of craving and attachment. This state is achieved when one lets go of grasping and aversion and rests in the calm clarity of the present moment.
- There is a path or method that leads to complete liberation from suffering. This is the Eightfold Path consisting of the middle way of understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Following this path leads to the end of suffering.
The Four Noble Truths diagnose the problem of suffering, identify its cause, state that liberation is possible, and prescribe the Eightfold Path as the way to achieve enlightenment by letting go of attachment and craving. This practical framework is at the heart of Buddhist teaching.
The Eightfold Path that leads to the end of suffering
- Understanding: Understanding the Four Noble Truths.
- Intention: Cultivating intentions of non-attachment, goodwill, and harmlessness.
- Speech: Speaking truthfully, harmoniously, and kindly.
- Action: Acting ethically and compassionately.
- Livelihood: Earning a living in a way that doesn’t harm others.
- Effort: Cultivating wholesome qualities and abandoning unwholesome ones.
- Mindfulness: Developing mindful awareness of the body, feelings, mind, and phenomena.
- Concentration: Cultivating deep concentration and meditative absorption.
Other key teachings:
- Impermanence - The understanding that all things are impermanent and constantly changing.
- Interdependence - The understanding that all things have causes and conditions. Nothing exists independently of other things.
- Emptiness - Emptiness does not mean that things do not exist; rather, it means that everything is interdependent and interconnected. All phenomena arise through causes and conditions and are subject to change. Nothing exists independently or permanently on its own.
- The Middle Way - The path of moderation, avoiding extremes of self-indulgence and self-denial.
- Karma - The law of cause & effect. The understanding that actions have consequences. (It's not a cosmic justice system)
- Rebirth - The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. It's not the transmigration of a soul, but rather the continuation of a causal process influenced by karma (actions and intentions).
- Meditation - Techniques for cultivating awareness, concentration, and insight.